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Primula (Primrose) Seeds

Hardy, adaptable, and easy to grow

The genus Primula contains showy perennial herbs, commonly called primroses, that are among the first flowers to bloom in spring, as early as January in some regions. The bright flowers come in various shapes and sizes as well as in almost every imaginable color. Some are solid, but most have a contrasting “eye.” They are borne singly or in multi-flowered umbels, racemes, or whorls on leafless scapes and may be erect or nodding, scented or unscented.

Primula is a huge genus of between 450 and 500 species that include many cultivars and hybrids. There is a wide variability among the species, but they tend to have a low, mounded habit of wrinkled, pale to dark green leaves, forming an attractive basal rosette. Polyanthus types, the English or common primroses, are long-lived woodland species bearing dense umbels of flowers on long stems (e.g., P. polyantha, P. vulgaris [syn P. acaulis]). Candelabra types, or bog primroses, are wetland species bearing spikes with multi-tiered whorls of flowers (e.g., P. bulleyana, P. japonica [Japanese primrose]). Alpine types are mountain species bearing small clusters of flat-topped flowers (e.g., P. auricula, P. veris [cowslips]). Drumstick Primula (P. denticulate) bear dense round flowerheads, and Oxlip (P. elatior) bears one-sided clusters of nodding yellow flowers.

Hardy and adaptable, primroses are easy to grow. Although light and soil requirements vary with the species, primroses primarily prefer cooler temperatures and dappled sunlight or partial to full shade, although some enjoy full sun. They thrive in soil that is rich with organic matter and consistently moist, but not soggy. They can be grown along streams, around ponds, and in bog, woodland, and rock gardens or in containers.